On September 11, 2001, when the first plane careened into the World Trade Center, many, many families lost loved ones. My family lost a tall, funny, handsome, smart young husband and father. My cousin Karleton was on that plane and even though he’s been gone a long time now, I still think of him often and miss his incredible sense of humor. Today, Karleton would have celebrated his 40th birthday. And so, in remembrance of him, I thought I would share just a few memories. When Karleton was probably 14 or 15, he used to come to Kansas City during the summer and stay with my family. One summer, he brought an LP of Steve Martin standup. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Karleton (and Steve Martin) for teaching me the proper way to drop an F bomb – it’s something I still do on a daily basis and I’ve gotten really good at it. Also, during one of his summer visits, we took a trip to Hannibal, Missouri to do the Mark Twain touristy thing. We stayed in a hotel with the nerdiest family you’ve ever seen – sort of like the Griswalds times four. So, Karleton aptly named them the Hillfikers. To this day, my sister and I see a family like that one, and we call them the Hillfikers. In the summer after my senior year of high school, I flew by myself to North Carolina to see Karleton’s sister, my cousin Erin, graduate and to spend a week after graduation with her in Myrtle Beach. I spent an hour or more stuck in the plane on the runway during the connection in Atlanta because we had to wait for a tornado to cross the runway ahead of the plane. By the time I got to Durham I was a nervous wreck and running so late for Erin’s graduation that I nearly missed it. I just remember Karleton picking me up from the airport and making me laugh so much that I quickly forgot how crazy that flight was. He had the ability to do that. Like the time he and I flew back to Kansas City and were seated in the very back seats on the plane – you know, the ones right next to the engine? On that trip, we arrived in KC and couldn’t hear because of the engine noise – we just kept yelling at each other and laughing. WHAT??? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!
I don’t want to go into all the sappy stuff I could say. I just wanted to remember and share some funny stories about a man who is missed very much. Happy Birthday, KDBF.